(MENAFN - Arab News) A Saudi diplomat kidnapped nearly a month ago in the southern Yemeni port city of Aden is in good health while negotiations for his release are at an advanced stage, according to wire reports.
Negotiations are ongoing and should result in the release of Abdullah Al-Khalidi, Saudi Arabia's deputy consul, in less than a week, said an AFP report, without giving details of the talks with kidnappers.
However, Saudi officials preferred not to comment when asked about negotiations with the abductors and possible release of the diplomat. Alauddin Alaskary, deputy foreign minister for protocol affairs, said he was "not aware of any development in the case." He, however, said the Saudi government was fully coordinating with Yemeni security agencies to pursue extensive efforts to release Al-Khalidi. The Saudi diplomat was kidnapped in Aden on March 28.
There were several reports about the reasons behind the kidnapping of Al-Khalidi. Some said the motive behind the abduction was related to a civil marriage dispute between the diplomat and a tribal Yemeni family. Last week, however, Al-Qaeda claimed responsibility for abducting the deputy consul. A Saudi fugitive who made a call to the Saudi Embassy in Sanaa on behalf of Al-Qaeda demanded that all detained members of Al-Qaeda in the Kingdom's jails be released and a ransom paid for the release of Al-Khalidi.
About the health conditions and whereabouts of Al-Khalidi, a Reuters report said the diplomat's life "is not in danger." Sheikh Tareq Al-Fadli, a tribal head in Abyan and a prominent leader of Yemen's southern separatist movement, said he had been mediating with the kidnappers for Al-Khaladi's release. "Things are going well. The man is fine, he is in good health," Fadli told Reuters, adding that he would be released "within the coming hours."